Into the future: Port of Tacoma funds cutting-edge equipment for CPTC School of Advanced Manufacturing

By Jean Borst

Clover Park Technical College (CPTC) has received funding from the Port of Tacoma to purchase a CNC plasma table, a leading-edge tool that will support CPTC’s ability to train students on the most modern equipment and ensure they have the skills they need to be workforce ready.

Plasma tables are used for multiple purposes across a range of industries to cut iron, stainless steel, aluminum and other metals using a plasma torch. The machine’s speed, precision and flexibility have made them an essential tool in modern fabrication.

“The commission’s generous support of CPTC’s manufacturing program will have a significant impact on student progression,” CPTC President Joyce Loveday said.

The plasma table is expected to be delivered to campus in 2024.

Investment in tomorrow

“The addition of the CNC plasma table will mark a significant workforce development shift within the School of Advanced Manufacturing,” CPTC Manufacturing Technologies instructor Nate Baker said. The state-of-the-art equipment enables the college to transition from solely teaching “old-school” manual labor-based techniques and embrace modern, highly efficient production methods.

“By equipping our students with the skills to operate, program, maintain and interact with this technology, we’re ensuring a seamless transition towards advanced manufacturing and fabrication, making our graduates invaluable contributors to the industries at the Port of Tacoma,” Baker said.  “This investment doesn’t just support education; it propels us into a future of innovation and productivity.”

Firing the engine

The Port of Tacoma has long been a vibrant and dynamic industrial employment hub whose primary mission is to serve as an economic development engine and generate quality, family wage jobs. Workforce development is at the heart of that mission.

Part of the Port’s five-year strategy adopted in 2021 is to partner with regional organizations and institutions to facilitate career development and growth in Pierce County. In 2022, the Port Commission adopted a Workforce Development Strategic Plan, which funded $21,500 for the plasma table. An additional investment of $6,750 will go toward student certification testing fees to help reduce barriers for job seekers.

The School of Advanced Manufacturing offers courses and programs that provide hands-on learning experience to develop fundamental technical skills and build expertise in electrical systems, programmable logical controllers, mechanical systems, sensors and actuators, robotics, CNC machine centers and quality assurance. Graduates earn college credentials along with a wide range of industry-recognized certifications that apply to growing industries in automation, robotics, manufacturing, instrumentation and process control, and supply chain logistics equipment.